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Operators of dolphin show seek new probe of cruelty raps

/ 03:25 PM May 18, 2012

MANILA, Philippines—The operators of a dolphin show are asking a Quezon City court to order a new investigation of charges they were cruel to animals, saying they had obtained the necessary government permits for a series of shows they mounted during the Christmas season of 2010.

Operators of the Angels of the Sea Dolphin and Sea Lion Show said they were not afforded a chance to answer the charges before being indicted and asked the court to quash the warrants it had issued for their arrest and to suspend all court proceedings in the case.

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This was after the summons from the Quezon City prosecutors’ office was purportedly served at the wrong address.

Jose Avelino and Ma. Carla Mamburam, key officials of Indophil Sea Wonders Co. Ltd., operator of the marine mammal show, said they were unable to respond to the initial complaint against them or attend the preliminary investigation because the Quezon City Prosecutor’s office had sent the summonses to the wrong address.

“Contrary to private complainants’ accusations, the accused did not commit cruelty to animals,” they said in their pleading, which was filed lawyers Shirley Alinea and Michael Thor Singson at the sala of Judge Caridad Walse-Lutero of the Metropolitan Trial Court’s  Branch 34.

Avelino and Mamburam were charged with violating Republic Act 8485 or the Animal Welfare Act on the strength of a complaint filed against them by the Philippine Animal Welfare Society and Earth Island Institute.

The complaints alleged that the animals were subjected to cruelty, such as being deprived of food to obey commands, being kept in a small and shallow pool, and being made to perform for five days without rest. They said the animals were also subjected to amplified noise from firecrackers during the New Year revelry in 2011.

Avelino and Mamburam were indicted after assistant city prosecutor Arleen Tagaban found probable cause to hale them to court for trial.

The court set their arraignment on May 31, but the two are now asking for its postponement. They said they learned of the court case only after a friend read a May 2 news report on their indictment in the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

They said they were unable to attend the preliminary investigation because the summonses were sent to the wrong address.

The summonses were delivered to 350 N. Domingo St., Barangay Valencia, but the  correct address was 50 N. Domingo St., Barangay Valencia.

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Thus, they were “deprived of their right to answer and refute the charges against them and submit their counter-affidavits.”

But according to private prosecutor Vicente Roy Kayaban, who filed Friday a pleading opposing the reinvestigation of the case, the first address of “350 N. Domingo” was address given in the company’s papers filed in the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In their pleading, Avelino and Mamburam said they would have submitted documents such as a certificate of registration from the Bureau of Animal Industry as proof.

“Before proceeding with the shows, Indophil Sea Wonders Co. Ltd. complied with all legal requirements, including a registration certificate dated Nov. 15, 2010 issued by the BAI pursuant to RA 8485,” the motion said.

Operators must first secure a certificate to be issued upon proof that the facilities are “adequate, clean and sanitary and will not be used for, nor cause pain and suffering to animals.”

The accused noted that the basis for the finding of probable cause was the prosecutor’s assumption that there was no certificate.

Had they been given the chance to counter the allegations with the BAI certificate, “there would have been no finding of probable cause,” the accused said.

However, Kayaban said, the accused’s reliance on the BAI certificate was like standing on “sinking ground” because Dr. Angel Antonio Mateo, head of the BAI’s Animal Feed Standards Division, is facing administative and criminal complaints at the Office of the Ombudsman “precisely for issuing said registration certificate.”

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TAGS: animal rights, Crime, Dolphin, dolphin show, Judiciary, Police
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